26.7.11

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND : Squeeze (1973)

Squeeze
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Once, back in the early 90s, I saw a copy of Squeeze in a record shop window here, in fine condition & priced at a measly couple of quid. Typically, in the time it took me to sprint to the cashpoint & back - 15 minutes max - it'd gone. Needless to say, I've never seen another one.

Essentially a Doug Yule solo LP, Squeeze was recorded in London in Autumn 1972, following The Velvet Underground's first visit to Europe - Lou Reed & Sterling Morrison both already having departed - to promote Loaded. Moe Tucker, though still playing drums on tour, was replaced on the studio sessions by Deep Purple's Ian Paice, reputedly as a "cost-cutting measure" (she'd been touring with her baby daughter Kerry in tow), though it's well known that she & manager Steve Sesnick didn't see eye-to-eye about much by that point. When Sesnick packed the rest of the then-current line-up, Willie Alexander (keyboards) & Walter Powers (bass), off home too it was left to Doug to play everything else (a little saxophone aside). Though undoubtedly a final, opportunistic attempt by Sesnick to (ahem) squeeze a little more cash out of the Velvets' ailing reputation, the LP itself wasn't the out-&-out travesty it's often been painted as - certainly by the prevailing bearded/flared/stoned standards of the era anyway. With hindsight, it's whimsical street vignettes sound much closer to Nils Lofgren or Stealers Wheel than anything from the 3rd V.U. album or the Yule-dominated Loaded. It's strange to consider, however, that the widely reported (& now legendary) Reed/Cale/Nico show at Paris Bataclan had already taken place by the time recording commenced.

Squeeze was released in February 1973 via Polydor Record's European wing & was never officially issued in the States. Yule, to his credit, evidently realised the game was up & dissolved the "band" after a final British tour, since when Squeeze has remained categorically out of print. Despite it's unavailability, it's significantly never quite achieved "mythic" status, & though it compares favourably to Lou Reed's slightly underwhelming eponymous solo debut (Velvets-heavy, also recorded in London, & released a year earlier), Cale's resplendent Paris 1919 (which appeared only a month after Squeeze) still towers head & shoulders above either. Mind you, all 3 of those LPs were largely ignored upon release, our forward looking music press generally being far more interested in the dismal travails of Wishbone Ash & Jethro Tull back then (check out an old copy of ZigZag or NME if you don't believe me).

10 comments:

  1. You learn something everyday - was completely unaware of this despite my soft spot for the essentially Yule led Loaded...

    As for Cale, I'd personally go for Vintage Violence as his defining moment?

    Andy

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  2. Well, I personally prefer both Vintage Violence & Fear to Paris 1919, but the latter fits into my circa '72 reasoning. If there's one record I'd like to hear the outtakes from, it's Fear (plus Iggy's Idiot perhaps?). Those photos of the V.U. + Moe with pram are priceless though, eh?

    I've got a bit of a soft spot for Doug too, I wonder what he's up to nowadays? He's pretty well preserved by the looks of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zrz0kilk8p8 ...but he doesn't say much, does he?

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  3. I met Yule at Lennon Rehearsal Studios in SF, 1996 or so. He had a small combo amp, which had "Doug Yule" stenciled on it. I asked him if he was indeed Doug Yule, and he stuck out his hand, shook my hand, and said "I wouldn't lie to ya!" It was a trip. Not sure if he's still in SF.

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  4. Wow, what a terrific anecdote! Good to hear that he's a nice guy too...

    I might be going out on a limb here, but I'd LOVE to see Doug get a small band together & play the Squeeze stuff, along with whatever V.U. songs he still had the confidence to perform these days... I'm definitely "a fan".

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  5. Anonymous8.8.11

    Thanks for this.
    Still... comparing favourably to Lou Reed's debut??? An album that contains Berlin, Love Makes You Feel, Going Down, Ocean (in its weakest version but still)??? Squeeze has its charms but it lacks any kind of depth really. But I second the sentiment about him getting a band together and performing again.

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  6. That first Lou Reed album is, as you point out, largely made up of "weak" re-runs of old V.U. songs, already 2-3 years old (you only have to compare them to the excellent V.U./Another View versions to hear how mediocre they are). I'm not suggesting that Doug's songwriting is as "deep" as Lou's, but Squeeze is certainly as enjoyable a listen as Lou's solo debut... with hindsight anyway.

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  7. I saw Squeeze at Princeton Record Exchange about a year ago, but didn't last long there either. I can't remember how much it cost, but I believe it was over $30.

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  8. It pops up on eBay & Discogs occasionally - it's even "reasonably price" sometimes too!

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  9. Anonymous13.6.12

    It's an awful LP ~ Evidence the live CD's from the era when Yule fronted the post Lou Velvets.
    He's actually pretending to be Lou & introducing tracks from The Banana & WLWH discs by saying he wrote them. Bowie has a great anecdote about meeting Lou Reed at Max's Kansas only to find out later he'd actually been talking to Yule pretending to be Lou! Priceless. Yule's a great musician/arranger and his work with the Velvets was/is stunning, but his faux~Velvets songs suk big-time. HLVS 'F'

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  10. Yeah, that Bowie anecdote is a howler!

    Squeeze is no masterpiece, but I'd rather listen to it than The Bells or Mistrial, know what I mean?

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